New poll: Arizonans want open, nonpartisan primaries
Arizonans go to the polls Tuesday to cast ballots in the primary election, but an overwhelming percentage of state voters believe the time has come for both open and nonpartisan primaries, according to a new poll.
A recent survey conducted on behalf of Morrison Institute for Public Policy and Arizona Indicators, a collaborative online data project, measured how voters felt about a number of issues, including Arizona’s primary system.
Results showed that three-quarters of Arizona voters favor a primary election in which the two candidates, regardless of party affiliation, who receive the largest number of votes face off in the general election. This change is favored across party lines and among all age groups.
“This survey shows there is significant dissatisfaction with at least some parts of Arizona’s current primary election process,” said David Daugherty, director of research at Morrison Institute.
More than six in 10 Arizona voters prefer open primaries with all candidates listed on the ballot but without party designation. Independents were most likely to prefer such a primary (71 percent), with Democrats the least favorable to the change (54 percent).
Presently, Arizona holds semi-open/closed party primaries. Republican voters are restricted to the Republican ballot, and Democrats are limited to the Democratic ballot. Candidates are divided by political affiliation, with the candidates receiving the most votes from their respective party facing off in the November general election.
Independents (those not aligned with or identified as a member of a major political party) can vote in Arizona primaries, however, only on a single ballot, such as either the Republican or Democrat contest.
Many independents find Arizona’s primary rules confusing and opt to miss the primary even though most of Arizona’s legislative districts are considered “safe districts,” meaning the primary often essentially determines the winner since the districts are either heavily Republican or heavily Democratic in voter registration.
According to the Arizona Indicators Panel survey, 86 percent of voters said Arizona should have an outright open primary, where anyone can vote for any candidate, regardless of political party. This change is favored by large majorities of all age groups and all political affiliations.
Findings in the survey are a statewide representative sample based on the responses of 614 Arizonans from July 16 through Aug. 6, as part of the Arizona Indicators Panel.
The survey was conducted using the web-enabled KnowledgePanel®, a probability-based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population.
Senior Communications Specialist
Morrison Institute for Public Policy